Aura leaned casually against the wall of her prison, trying to make herself as comfortable as she could. Of course, in Zedd and Rita's dungeon, that wasn't exactly the easiest thing to do. She'd been their prisoner before; each time was a little different though. The main difference was she hated them a little more with each 'visit'. She sighed a little; remembering her last glimpse of Alaina was the only thing that gave her even a little hope.
Zedd better release Alexander soon. If he doesn't. . .the others won't know what I want them to. They have to know; they just have to!
The door to the dungeon swung open, and Zedd entered. Aura deliberately looked away from him, turning her thoughts to the one she loved. Billy. Oh, Billy, I love you and I miss you. Don't forget me, my dearest.
Zedd's voice broke into her thoughts. "Your daughter is back with her father."
"And my son will be too, soon," she smiled a little; this was all she had left now, she knew, her memories and her hopes. Zedd intended to deny her the hope, she knew. But she had her memories, regardless.
"Perhaps," he came over to stare at her; she turned away again, not wanting him to see the tears that had sprung into her eyes as thoughts of Billy went through her mind.
"No perhaps about it," she said coldly. She would give him no pleasure in knowing how much being away from her family hurt her. He grabbed her chin and forced her to look at him, smiling when he saw the pain that both his grip and her imprisonment caused her.
"You are in no position to give orders," he growled to her. Aura jerked her head away from him and he chuckled, enjoying every bit of mental anguish he was putting her through. "Would you like to see your son?"
Aura snapped out the single word, "Yes, preferably at home with his sister and father!"
Zedd waved his staff, and an image appeared before them. Aura looked up to see her son there; sleeping in a small playpen, with Rito and Goldar both on guard nearby. I wondered where they'd went after they left earlier today. Guess now I know.
"Oh, Alex," she whispered; her voice so full of love and pain that Zedd's ancient withered heart almost pulsed once more with life. He laughed coldly; he could use her pain to hurt her even more!
"Pity you will never see him again!" he reminded her as the picture faded away. Tomorrow I begin the real torture of this foolish Ranger! I've been planning this for three months now, and I have so many plans for her. So very many painful plans. . .
"Billy will rescue him," Aura said firmly. "That's what's important." Not me. If Zedd has me to torment, he won't be guarding Alexander as well; that's got to be how they got Alaina back. My family is more important than I could ever be.
"He can't even find him! He can't even find you!" Zedd laughed. He didn't notice the small smile that tugged at Aura's lips. She knew that Billy would find Alexander; she could feel it in her pulse, in her heartbeat, in her very soul. Zedd continued to taunt her. "Your sister has to help him take care of your daughter in your. . .absence."
Aura chuckled under her breath. "They'll find Alex," she promised Zedd. "And when they do, if you've harmed him, then you're going to wish you'd never even heard of the Power Rangers!"
"If that is what you want to think!" Zedd raised his staff suddenly and lashed her with magical bolts of pain, just for the pure pleasure he got from hearing her sudden and unexpected screams of pain. Oh, that is such a sweet sound. I could listen to her scream forever. In fact, I probably will! * * *
Azure and Adam sat quietly in the Command Center, watching over Alaina. The little baby seemed none the worse for her brief imprisonment; the only thing that was different was Aura's necklace gleamed around her neck. Billy had tried to remove it, to see if Aura had attached anything to it, only to find it was as immovable as ever.
"She's a beautiful girl," Adam said softly. "Like her aunt," he took every opportunity to praise and compliment Azure; he enjoyed doing it, and liked the soft shade of pink she blushed whenever he said things like that.
"Like her mother," Azure demurred, shaking her head lightly. Adam touched the necklace a little.
"I wonder why Aura gave the necklace to her," he mused. Tommy glanced over, shrugging. That was one mystery they were going to have to wait for the answer to it seemed. He looked back at Alpha.
"Any luck yet?" his question was answered by Alpha's shaking of his head. If we don't find them both, I think Billy's going to go insane, and I couldn't blame him. He loves Aura and the twins so much. Take away any member of their family, and you've got an entire mob on your hands to deal with! I almost envy them that.
"Hold it!" Billy's voice held complete triumph. "I think I've found Alex!"
Everyone rushed over to him, to be pushed quickly back as he tried to pinpoint the location. "Where is he?" Azure was eager to bring her nephew home. Billy read off the location co-ordinates, then sighed deeply.
"Still no sign of Aura," since she'd vanished off their sensors the other day, Aura might as well not have existed for all that she showed up on the Command Center computers. Adam tried to reassure his friend.
"We'll find her," he promised. We have to find her. Who knows what sort of things they're doing to her? They've wanted a chance to do something like this to her for a year now. I wonder why she did it; she knew perfectly well Zedd wasn't going to release the twins without a fight. I guess I'll have to ask her if . .. no, when we get her back!
"I know," Billy nodded. "And anything that Zedd's done to her, I'm going to take out of his skinless hide!"
Tommy nodded. "What are we waiting for? Let's go get little Alex out of there!"
Billy was ready to teleport that very second, when Alpha stopped them suddenly. "Ay-yi-yi-yi, no, Rangers!" he waved his arms frantically trying to get their attention. Adam glanced towards him worriedly.
"What's wrong, why can't we?" the Black Ranger didn't like the way Alpha looked first at him, then at Azure. He can't be thinking what I think he is. . .
"It has to be a non-Ranger; Zedd set up a forcefield around the planet Alexander is on that could strip you all of your Ranger powers, and damage you so badly you could very well die in the process."
"No way!" Adam knew exactly what Alpha was trying to suggest, and he was furious. "No way!"
"I see no other way, Adam!" Alpha protested. Adam looked at his girlfriend quickly, to see a determined light in her eyes he recognized all too much.
"You. .. you can't want to do this!" he almost stepped back from the glare she threw at him. I don't think I should have said that.
"I can't just leave my nephew there!" she snapped. "You can't possibly think I'd do that!"
"Azure," he said helplessly; then was dragged over to one side of the Command Center. She pulled him down and whispered in his ear softly, "When we get them all back, then we'll tell them!"
"Tell them what?" he affected surprised; she batted him on the ear.
"We're going to have to do some talking once I get back with Alexander," Azure promised him, smiling as she kissed him on the lips. She glanced over at Alpha. "I'm ready. Just tell me what I've got to do and I'll do it."
Alpha nodded and came over to her. "From the readings, we'll be able to teleport you very near to where they're keeping Alexander. Goldar and Rito are on guard; along with a few Tengas."
Azure nodded firmly, then looked at Adam. "I'll be fine," she promised him. "After all, I'm a black belt these days, thanks to you!"
"You'd better be fine," he told her as he kissed her yet again. "I'd be lost without you."
She smiled. "You keep that up, I'm not going to be able to go anywhere!" she pulled away from him a little, and looked to Alpha. "I'm ready."
A moment later, only the Rangers stood in the Command Center. Adam sighed deeply, and exchanged a long glance with Billy. Both the women they loved were gone now, but Adam knew he was luckier than his friend. At least they knew for certain Azure would be back. But as for Aura. . . * * *
Azure found herself in a thick jungle; she could hear voices up ahead of her. Probably Goldar and Rito. I hope I can get Alex out without them seeing me. The last thing I want to do is go up against them again, especially now. She still remembered the times Goldar had tried to kill her; only to be stopped by Aura. She can't help me this time. If I'm seen. . .I'm on my own.
She quietly stepped through the trees, using all the techniques of silence and stealth that Adam had taught her. Moving so quietly as to be mistaken for a shadow, she managed to slip up to where the two idiots were guarding her nephew. She paused for a moment, listening to them discuss whatever it was a pair of mutated morons talked about while guarding the child of a Power Ranger. * * *
"Why'd we get baby-sitting duty?" Rito whined. Alexander Cranston sat quietly in his playpen, watching his unusual 'baby-sitters'. He was a very quiet baby, with large blue eyes and a serious demeanor. To anyone who knew Aura, they would have recognized that look. It had been known on Kalakan as the 'look of the Amber Rangers'. Calm, dedicated, and absolutely dead set against anything evil.
"Cause that brat is the next Amber Ranger," Goldar reminded him. He paced back and forth in front of the playpen/cage, fuming. "I want my chance at the current one! Zedd's keeping all the fun of torturing her to himself!"
Azure had been slowly creeping nearer to the playpen when she heard that. She jumped up, eyes glazing, and muttered just a little too loudly, "What?" Her heart sank as Goldar turned to Rito.
"Did you hear something?"
"Yeah, I think I did!" the bone-man turned around, and his 'eyes' widened as he saw Azure. "Hey, isn't that the Black Ranger's girlfriend?"
Goldar turned, and the look in his eyes frightened Azure as he started towards her. "Why, so it is," he smiled nastily. "We meet again!"
"So we do," Azure was breathing harder and harder as Goldar drew closer to her. "So we do."
"Come for your little brat nephew, huh?" Goldar's sword appeared in his hand. He'd waited for a chance at either of the sisters for a while now.
"No, I came to see you," Azure said sarcastically. "Of course I came to get Alexander out of here, and he's no brat!" she fell into a fighting stance. There was no way she was ever going to be afraid again, no matter what.
"Ohhhhh!!" Goldar laughed; this was funny. The little human actually thought she could fight him. "Am I supposed to be afraid of you?"
"No, but I'm not going to let you hurt my nephew!" Azure declared. She started the fight, running towards Goldar and jumping with a solid two-foot kick at his chest. He staggered back, growling with anger.
"You can't do anything to stop us, brat!" he ran towards her, only to be tripped by her fast-moving feet. Azure had subconsciously been preparing herself for this fight for over a year now, and she was ready.
"Try me!" she stomped on Goldar's wrist until he had to release his sword, then backed towards Alexander. As much fun as this was, she had to keep her mind on her mission: the rescue of the baby. "Guess what, Goldar!? You don't scare me anymore!" she had to tell him; had to let him know that the fear he'd held over her was gone. It had really vanished the day she'd known Eric was in town; but now, she was finally able to fight both Eric's memory and Goldar's grim reality.
"Good!" he actually approved of that. "It's no fun to destroy a cowering weakling!"
"Idiot!" Azure snapped as she and Goldar traded blow after blow in a fight she knew Aura would have been proud to see, if not take part in. Rito looked over at her.
"Yeah, what?" both she and Goldar stopped to stare at him when Rito said that. She shook her head.
"I wasn't talking to you!" her momentary distraction cost her, though, as Goldar knocked her down. He laughed coldly at her.
"You're never going to get this brat or your sister back, human!" he promised her. Azure shook her head.
"Wanna bet?! If I can't, the Rangers will!" What Goldar said next terrified her down to her soul.
"I don't think you'll want your sister back even if you do find her!"
"What do you mean by that?" Azure asked, ducking as he swung his great blade at her. He laughed.
"You'll have to wait and find out!"
"Why don't you just tell me!" Azure dodged as he swung yet again. "I hate surprised!"
"Sorry, human!" Goldar thrust the sword straight at her, almost grazing her skin. "Let's just say after what Zedd's doing to her, she won't be quite the same person you knew!"
Azure flipped away from him, kicking him harshly as she did so in a region Aura had mutilated many times before. She found herself by Alexander's playpen, where Rito was playing with the little baby. "Put him down!" she ordered. Rito looked at her; and she was surprise to almost see a tender look in his eyes.
"He's so cute! Can't I play with him just a little longer?"
"Put him down!" she repeated. A sudden roaring brought her attention back to the fight, and she turned just in time to see Goldar bring his sword down hard towards her. She moved just barely in time; she wasn't knocked unconscious, but she did fall to the ground. Goldar roared in triumph.
"I told you that you'd never win, human!" Azure glanced up as he bellowed, then spun around and kicked him hard in the knees, knocking him flat on the ground. She leaped to her feet, grabbed Alex away from Rito, and hit her communicator. A moment later, she was back in the Command Center.
Billy and Adam ran over to her. "You got him!" Billy took his son and began a quick examination to make sure he was all right. Adam kissed her quickly.
"Azure, are you all right? What happened?" he asked. She looked at Billy, a small smile on her lips.
"I got him. Two down, one to go," she ruffled Adam's hair a little as he kissed her again.
"I'm glad you're safe," he glanced at the bruises starting to show on her. "Looks like you had to fight some."
"I did," she nodded as she headed over to the consoles. As she started to do something, her eyes rolled up into her head and she collapsed. Adam caught her quickly and carried her over to an examining table where Alpha scanned her.
"She'll be fine," he reported. "She's just worn out."
Adam sighed. "Good," he glanced over when he heard Azure talking in her sleep.
"Get Aura out," she muttered. Billy's eyes flashed with worry as he once more started the scans for his wife and love.
We've got to find her. We just have to. * * *
Aura ignored Zedd as he entered the dungeon again. He'd made a habit of showing up to torment her; and she made the habit of ignoring him whenever he did so. "Your son may have been returned," she could tell how angry he was over that, too, "but your sister suffered!"
She laughed. "Azure will heal, and you've lost both my children now!"
"But I have not lost you!" he reminded her. He waved his staff, showing her the fight between Azure and Goldar. Aura smiled; she was so proud of how far Azure had come in her martial arts and her inner strength.
"I knew she'd beat him one day," she muttered. The scene shifted to them arriving back in the Command Center, and moments later, Azure collapsed on the floor. Aura bit her lip, hoping her sister was all right.
"She also lost," Zedd reminded her. Aura glared at him.
"She's alive, and she has my son back!"
Zedd chuckled. "Is she alive? How can you be sure?" the blood drained from Aura's face as Zedd spoke. She couldn't let him know the fear she felt, though.
"I know. I can feel it."
He laughed. "I wouldn't count on that feeling!"
Aura could no longer stop her tears. "If she is dead, I won't rest until you are, Zedd!"
"You will never know!" he reminded her of her captivity. And he's right, I probably will never know! Oh, sweet stars of heaven, this was the greatest mistake I've ever made in my life!
Zedd forced her to look at him again. "You are not going to live much longer. You are going to wish you had never come here!"
Aura whispered, even though she knew he'd hear her being as close as he was at the moment. "I already wish that."